The Phoenix Mercury's early season struggles continued as the team lost 101-99 to the San Antonio Silver Stars on Friday night, dropping their record to 0-3 to start the year.
The squad's first victory of the season seemed to be in hand for the entire first half of the game due to an efficient fast break attack and stifling team defense. Phoenix held the Silver Stars to 41.2% shooting throughout the first two periods, entering halftime with a 51-37 lead.
"In the first half we played great defense and all five people were on the same page," said Mercury star Diana Taurasi.
That all changed during a foul-laden third quarter which brought the Silver Stars back within striking distance. A Danielle Robinson free-throw capped off an 11 point swing that gave the visitors a 72-71 lead, their first since the first quarter.
"In the second half, it was a totally different team," Taurasi continued. "We let it get away. If you don't work together in the second half you are going to lose and that's what happened."
Overall, the third period featured a 19-6 free throw disparity. Back-up point guard Ketia Swanier fouled out midway through the quarter, and starting point guard Temeka Johnson was forced to the bench after receiving her fifth foul.
"You can't blame the outcome of the game on that," Mercury head coach Corey Gaines lukewarmly stated after the game. "We got to move our hands more, move our feet more. Don't touch. It's on us."
San Antonio opened the fourth quarter on a 12-6 run to take a four point lead, however the Mercury fought right back, tying the game on a Diana Taurasi three-pointer with 4:20 to play.
Though, in the end the Silver Stars proved to be too much for Phoenix, closing out the game strong on the heels of a 10-6 run that stretched the deficit to five points with 2.4 seconds left.
Mercury star Diana Taurasi started the game on fire, scoring nine of her team-high 20 points in the opening quarter, but was held in check for much of the rest of regulation until resurfacing late in the fourth quarter.
"There is a laundry list of things we need to fix," Taurasi said. "Getting back into the gym and work harder until we find a different mindset that works."
Phoenix forward Candance Dupree recovered from a shaky first half to end the game with 18 points and 12 boards, her second straight double-double.
Sophia Young led the charge for San Antonio, pouring in 26 points while pulling down eight rebounds.
"I think we were running the floor better," Young said. "In the second half we buckled down, tried to box out, and got some rebounds. We have players that are able to guard people and we have players that are able to finish on offense as well."
San Antonio veteran Becky Hammon helped steady the team after their rough first half, piling up 22 points and nine assists.
"We just buckled down defensively," Hammon said. "It was just a great effort in the second half by our whole team."
Silver Star rookie Danielle Adams followed up her breakthrough 32-point game against Atlanta with another strong performance, scoring an effective 16 points on 2 of 5 shooting from behind the arc.
The Mercury play the last game of their weekend home-stand on Sunday against the Indiana Fever. Tip-off is at 3 p.m. MST.